by C.J. Darlington
Eric Wilson Interview
line: I realized if nothing else, my wife and my kids were to be my
ministry, my purpose. If I died at age 90 with nothing to show for
myself but a family who knew without a doubt that I had loved them
with my whole heart, then that was a legacy worth living for."
-- Eric Wilson
Eric Wilson and his wife, Carolyn Rose, live with their two energetic daughters in Nashville, Tennessee. Eric has traveled in numerous countries, feeding his love of the outdoors and his need to explore. He has written the novelizations of Facing the Giants, Flywheel and Fireproof. His other novels include the Aramis Black mystery series, Dark to Mortal Eyes, Expiration Date, and his latest series: Jerusalem's Undead.
There are a lot of great things going on in the writing life of Eric Wilson! Catch us up on what’s new. Last we talked you were working on the Aramis Black series.
That was a half-million words ago. I had someone quote a line from an Aramis novel to me the other day, and I didn’t even realize it was my own. I’ve gone through many ups and downs since that time, but God opened incredible doors for me a year and a half ago. Now, after eight novels, I’m finally writing full-time—which would still be impossible without my wife’s help doing part-time jobs.
We’re really excited about your latest release, Field of Blood, Book #1 in the Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy. When did the idea for this novel first come to you, and how did you develop it?
The answer could fill pages. Basically, I saw the influx of vampire novels and wanted to expose the dichotomy between finding unnatural life in blood and Jesus’ call to find life in His blood. The struggle between spirit and flesh, good and evil, is all right there. With my travels in Romania, I knew there were great settings for such a story. It was simply a matter of finding the characters and mythos to build around.
We hear those trips to Romania and Israel a couple years ago gave you so much more fodder for the series than you could have imagined. What was the most memorable experience from that trip?
The most memorable part was just getting there. I had $1700 for the entire trip to Israel, including the airfare. The airlines and online research told me there were no tickets under $1799, after tax. On a wing and a prayer—literally!—I flew to JFK on a discount flight, then walked from airline to airline with my bags in hand and tried to negotiate a ticket. After eight hours, I found a Ukrainian Airlines manager who sold me the last seat on a flight for $1000, roundtrip, NY to Tel Aviv. That left me with money to actually eat and stay under a roof for my ten days in Israel. It was an amazing, exhausting trip from start to finish. I never stayed in a hotel, never ate in a nice restaurant, but the memories of the people and places will be with me till I die.
Do you find research a necessary evil or a springboard for ideas? Why or why not?
I usually read between 500-1000 pages of research for each novel I write. I don’t like the hours of tedium, yet many of the coolest ideas sprout from that research. I love that tug and pull between past and present, the lessons we can learn, and the importance of breaking the chains of generational sin.
As a self-confessed “seat-of-the-pants” writer, how much did you know about Field of Blood before you started writing?
Hey now, “seat-of-the-pants” writing is not a sin. The truth is that I get bored if I know too much before I get started. It’s a walk of faith, stepping into each chapter and seeing where it might lead. I’m a pretty organized person, so this allows my creativity to roam. I don’t recommend this method for the faint of heart, though. With Field of Blood, I established the basic history and mythos beforehand, as well as the central character’s main conflict. Other than that, it was a mystery each day as I wrote.
Backing up a little, there’s been some controversial talk about this series. A few folks are a little squeamish about the whole vampire theme woven through the books. If you were sitting across the table from a reader like this, what would you like to say to them?
Don’t read this series. Stay in your comfortable religion that avoids dealing with the sin in the human heart and the realities in the Bible. If, however, you want a mind-boggling story that shows not only the evil that resides in each of us, but the power of the Nazarene Blood, then go read the book—and quickly. It’s a modern take on the age-old battle between good and evil, the choice we all must make, and Jesus who shed His blood to save us from the darkest pit.
I’m excited to hear there’s going to be a connection between Book #2, Haunt of Jackals, and your first two novels, Dark to Mortal Eyes & Expiration Date? We would love to have a sneak peek at how you plan to do this, if you’re telling! (Come on, Eric, just a little peek? :)
For those who go back and read my earlier books, you’ll see some very cool tie-ins. In Dark to Mortal Eyes, there was a serpent-like mist that rose from an old WWII canister. In Haunt of Jackals, you’ll find out more about that mist. In Expiration Date, there were two people you thought had died. In Haunt of Jackals, you’ll find out the real story. For heaven’s sake, though, go buy Field of Blood and Haunt of Jackals first. If these books don’t sell, I’ll never get to finish off my earlier series and tie it all together. I’m begging you. It’ll drive me crazy to go to the grave with these storylines still unresolved in my head!
There’s a powerful message woven through your stories, and Field of Blood is no exception. What do you hope readers take away from the story?
Grace. I believe that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Sure, we can get scared into heaven, but there’s so much more to be discovered in a relationship with the living God. It’s not easy, though. It’s a day-by-day transformation, while dying to my fleshly nature.
What would you say has been the hardest part about writing The Jerusalem Undead books?
The first book was difficult because I had a lot of mythos-building to do. I felt paralyzed by the expectations. I knew many nonbelievers would want it to match their goals for a vampire novel, while many believers would question my use of that genre. With the second book, that pressure was off.
Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
Oh, that’s just not fair. I’ve written nine books now! I definitely relate to Gina’s struggles. I love Sgt. Turney. Cal Nichols is a fun character for me, especially as the Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy progresses. A former editor told me that Aramis Black was Eric Wilson on steroids.
Eric, you’ve dealt with some tough stuff in your writing journey. As artistic types we often feel deeply, and that can sometimes create extreme highs and lows. I know you’ve dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts in the past. Would you be up for sharing with us the story of how you fell into the hole of depression but most importantly, how God lifted you out? I believe it would be very encouraging to others who might be dealing with similar issues.
I don’t have any easy answers. When you’re depressed, the entire world shrinks to a cocoon of darkness and hopelessness. After twelve years of perfect credit and running my own business, I had gone through a bankruptcy, lost our house, our car, every shred of my pride, any savings. I felt like a failure, even more so because I’d been trying to follow God through all those decisions. I’d never done anything unethical or illegal. Where was God? Where was my Defender?
All I could do was keep moving forward a step at a time and refuse to give in. I’ve had two uncles who took their own lives, and I did not want to put my family through any more of that. I figured I would walk, crawl, drag myself across the finish line if necessary, but I would not let my own despair keep me from moving toward Jesus, who Himself took on all that despair and sin on the Cross.
New Year’s Eve, going into 2007, I sat for hours on a hill overlooking Nashville. I yelled, cried, prayed, and whispered for God to give me some glimmer of joy, of hope, of peace. None of my issues had to do with my family. They had to do with my own struggle to know where God wanted me, and what He wanted me to be doing. Bottom line: I realized if nothing else, my wife and my kids were to be my ministry, my purpose. If I died at age 90 with nothing to show for myself but a family who knew without a doubt that I had loved them with my whole heart, then that was a legacy worth living for.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I’d love to write all my books from a lighthouse, with a view of the waves, but the reality is that I write at a desk in my room.
What’s next for you book-wise?
I’m working on the third Jerusalem’s Undead novel, Valley of Bones. I intend to complete the Senses series, particularly with its tie-ins to this trilogy. I have numerous other ideas, including a spin-off from the trilogy that would deal with Cal Nichols and his past. The series would be called the Concealed Tales.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I don’t own a
cell phone. I was bit by a dog while living in Afghanistan as a young
Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Watching a DVD with my wife or playing a game with my kids.
What will your epitaph read?
The sucker just refused to quit. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
A bowl of Raisin Bran, a glass of OJ, and a cup of French Roast.
Three words that best describe you:
Creative. Thankful. Questioning.
You’re stranded on a desert island and can only bring three items. What are you packing?
A “Please Do Not Disturb” sign. A pair of sunglasses. A suitcase full of books (ranging from classics I haven’t read to my all-time favorites).
What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?
Learning fluent German. Overseeing an artist retreat. Actually becoming more like Christ. Having the finances to take care of my parents into their old age, especially my mom.
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
Underoath’s Lost in the Sound of Separation
If you’ve read this far, I know you can make it through any of my books. I want to do this for the rest of my life, writing stories that challenge and entertain, so help me out here. Do I have to get on my knees and beg? Seriously, I am so thankful for the chance to share on TitleTrakk. This is a great site.
Watch the trailer for Field of Blood:
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.